What five books are most important or influential to you?
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
This is a book I both love and hate. It is the only book I can think of that rattles me so badly, but that I can't seem to stop returning to. Emotionally, I'm only up to reading the whole thing every few years, but not a month goes by that I don't pick it up and reread passages and paragraphs, despite knowing how shaken they'll leave me. Why? I don't know. And that's what keeps me coming back.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Nothing has the potential to age more poorly than humor. So when I pick up Don Quixote and something on every page makes me laugh and it was published over 400 years ago, I'm in awe. I doubt people will be laughing at my jokes 400 years from now.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Just about all of my opinions and ideas about humor can be traced back to this book. This is the book that taught me that it's rare to have humor without an element of sadness in it. I read Confederacy every year, because it feels like a new book to me every time.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
I love words. I love language. Catch 22 better illustrates how meaningful (and meaningless) language can be than any other book I know.
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The first Vonnegut novel I ever read, and the one I know I'll be rereading for the rest of my life. I don't think kindness is ever a mistake, and Slaughterhouse Five is a book about what happens when we fail to be kind to one another. I'm hopelessly clumsy when discussing this book, but it gives me goosebumps every time.
Doesn't that make you want to add every one of them to your TBR? Thanks so much for participating, Josh!
For more about Josh, here's what he has to say about himself on his blog:
The short answer: just some guy.
- I’ve got a pretty simple philosophy of life.
- Take care of your mind and your health
- Protect your family and make sure they have what they need
- Help who you can help
- Laugh as often as possible
- Ask lots of questions
- Distrust the humorless
- Nobody understood human nature better than Mark Twain
- There’s always a way to be compassionate
- Every situation can be improved
Not too profound, but it works for me.